“The Iron Lady of Asia died fighting, in her sleep; she died unconscious.”
The entire Philippines was evidently shocked by the sudden demise of one of its treasured solon and perhaps the wisest among the senators who ever was and ever will be.
Lately, we were talking about her with my colleagues when a memory of the senator came to our curiosity that her public appearance seemed to be greatly diminished. One of them asked me, “Is she no longer a senator?” I regretfully replied to her, “No. Her term as a senator has ended and since she lost the last election she is once again a part of the private sector.”
I begin the recollection of my memory of her from the days when I was an inexperienced kid. I often see her in nighttime news reports often yelling, screaming, joking and scolding other officials that fit well in the vessel of a kleptocrat. As a result, my mother loudly extolled in the middle of the house that she voted for the lady and impersonates her finger-pointing libretto thus sounds the same intonations as the senator – this makes me laugh and feel anxious for my mother’s mental health because it’s silly; but I realized it’s just entirely for laughs in the end.
Anyhow, the impression the senator left to me is the sense of Justice. Her incessant “corruption-busting” campaign left a remarkable ink in my mind. Her words gave me the primitive fragments of my moral and political principles that will soon be developed throughout the years. In practice, I admit that when I overhear news that disgusts me concerning the way our politicians behave behind and in front of the closet, including their monkey businesses, there are times that I give furious comments regarding how should they treat the people and how should they do their jobs. When I do this, I oftentimes remember that there is one senator who knows what I am talking about and hear my voice. I was 10 years old at this and I know how dark the Philippine politicians are.
Image: Santiago’s Profile in the Hall of Awardees at Ramon Magsaysay Foundation Awards for Leadership
Compared to my former approvals, I am not the only one who rejoiced when she attacked one of the most reviled politicians who came from my home province of Cagayan. Just to give a clue, even his fellow Cagayanos did not approve to give him a continuation in controlling the better portion of Cagayan, industrializing the province for the foreigners, ecologically harming the environment by black-sand mining and concentrating political positions to his relatives and allies. No doubt, Cagayanos hate this man but the lady senator was out there reproaching the old man. I feel like the entire province’s voice was heard in minutes or her speech. Not to mention that she challenged him for a debate, that was an uppercut!
I also remember one of my classmates in High School who vocally declared her intense adoration to the Iron Lady. I recalled her saying that she wanted to be like the senator and we both dislike the people she comes to combat in the senate hall. We shared political views about the lady and habitually includes her in our deep conversations alongside scientific breakthrough, philosophical questions, psychological thoughts like the behaviour of our classmates and our own assessment to their attitudes and reasoning (we include the hypothetical influence of their synergy with their chums) and religious doctrines that often goes to the absurd tinkering with the concepts of each religion and cultural significance of that religion to the region. Yes, we could create a caboodle of thesis questions mounting from the senator’s recent statements and it ladders up at least not in the technical derivatives because we are just high school students.
This simply means that the senator might have influenced vast amount of the Filipino youths including me and my friends; and her persona fumes a lot of intellectual discussion with my friend alone. That is why her legacy has greatly defined the pillars of my political, philosophical and even moral beliefs. She is not just a senator or a woman; she changed my mind and almost certainly my life and future. I will never forget the teacher I never met.
Remembering the Iron Lady of Asia is pushing me to pursue a degree in Law. It ignites my inner sense of Justice, my belligerent and spirited side. I will jubilantly tell my children that she is one of the greatest people who influenced me and that they are fortunate to live in the day that she lived to tell her tale. Right now, one of my primary models to my moral, political and more like philosophical principles have peacefully passed away. The kind of Senator I will always elect, the epitome of Justice, the Woman we will never forget will never die for the Iron she wrought never rusts and eternally honed by her legacy to the Filipino youth, to the country and to the world.
The Iron Lady of Asia made her niches in our hearts, her memory resounds undying, and for the generations to come, lessons of principles, that is the time when the Iron turns Gold.
“In my view, leadership is the courage to take risks in defense of a position that is both legal and moral. The politician who tries to become a wise guy by becoming friends to everybody – corrupt or not – is not a leader.”
― Miriam Defensor Santiago, Stupid is Forever
Miriam Palma Defensor-Santiago (1945-2016)
Rest in Peace Madame The Great